Pro­gram cre­ates jobs at no tax­payer cost

The Washington Times Daily - - Editorial -

“Im­mi­gra­tion staffers pres­sured to rush visas for wealthy in­vestors” (Web, Nov. 18) fun­da­men­tally mis­char­ac­ter­izes the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the EB-5 im­mi­grant in­vestor pro­gram of the U.S. Ci­ti­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice (USCIS). It in­cor­rectly con­flates two en­tirely sep­a­rate pro­cesses: the eco­nomic anal­y­sis of the U.S. busi­ness that will re­ceive EB-5 cap­i­tal and the na­tional se­cu­rity checks on EB-5 in­vestors.

The goal of the eco­nomic re­view is to en­sure that each EB-5 in­vest­ment has a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion of cre­at­ing a min­i­mum of 10 U.S. jobs, as re­quired by law. USCIS con­ducts sin­gle in-depth eco­nomic re­views of large-scale projects that can then be ap­plied to in­di­vid­ual in­vestor pe­ti­tions — rather than start­ing from scratch on the eco­nomic anal­y­sis of the same project with each pe­ti­tion. Each in­di­vid­ual EB-5 in­vestor re­mains sub­ject to the same na­tional se­cu­rity screen­ings as ap­pli­cants in any other visa cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and FBI back­ground checks. In­vestors must also show that the cap­i­tal they are in­vest­ing was earned and routed law­fully, ver­i­fy­ing both the source and path of funds.

Far from it be­ing a “fast track,” in­dus­try data shows that in 2013 it is tak­ing an av­er­age of 17 months for the gov­ern­ment to re­view ap­pli­ca­tions from prospec­tive EB-5 Re­gional Cen­ters, fed­er­ally ap­proved or­ga­ni­za­tions that pool for­eign in­vest­ments and de­ploy cap­i­tal to large-scale projects. For for­eign in­vestors, there is cur­rently an 18-month back­log of more than 7,000 in­vestor ap­pli­ca­tions. The anec­do­tal ev­i­dence cited in the ar­ti­cle ap­pears to track th­ese time­lines, which pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity to per­form the nec­es­sary se­cu­rity checks on in­vestors.

USCIS has cre­ated the new Wash­ing­ton-based Im­mi­grant In­vestor Pro­gram Of­fice, staffed by trained econ­o­mists, ex­perts in busi­ness and im­mi­gra­tion law, as well as fraud and na­tional se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists, af­ter nu­mer­ous pub­li­cen­gage­ment ses­sions en­gag­ing the pro­gram stake­hold­ers. This is a pos­i­tive step for­ward to pro­tect the in­tegrity of a pro­gram that cre­ates jobs at no cost to the tax­payer. A peer-re­viewed eco­nomic study shows that in 2010-2011 alone, in­vest­ments made through the EB- 5 pro­gram con­trib­uted $2.2 bil­lion to U.S. gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and sup­ported more than 28,000 Amer­i­can jobs. Dur­ing to­day’s un­cer­tain na­tional eco­nomic and fis­cal state, the EB-5 Re­gional Center Pro­gram is some­thing we should be sup­port­ing as a coun­try.



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